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What Is It Like to Shoot a .50 Caliber Sniper Rifle?

When U.S. troops need to take out an enemy position, they’ll often call up one of their snipers. A sniper may be equipped with a rifle chambered in the common 7.62mm NATO round, the potent .338 Lapua Magnum, or the mother of all sniper rifle rounds – the .50 BMG. BMG stands for Browning Machine Gun, as this monster of a round sees use in Browning’s deadly machine gun even today. Snipers will tell you, the .50 Caliber is a beast. There is nothing like it when you need absolute power and pinpoint accuracy in one package. They’ll also tell you that you can’t shoot one without knowing full well there is something special in play. The 50 Cal is simply unforgettable. What is it like to shoot the .50? Read on to find out.


The most common .50 Caliber rifle you can shoot today is the Barrett M82. This rifle weighs about 30 pounds, so don’t plan on shooting it offhand or in any other way other than from the bench. You’ll want to use the integral bipod on the fore-end to provide stability. Then, pull the stock in tightly to prevent getting a smack on the shoulder from the sizeable recoil delivered by the .50 round. Something important to consider is that the .50-Caliber weighs about three times as much as a regular hunting rifle, so even though it is extremely powerful, it doesn’t beat you up quite as much as one might expect.

Loading it is simple – just push a few of the massive 691-800 grain projectiles into the removable box magazine (for comparison, a standard .30-Caliber hunting round weighs in at 150 grains or so), pull back on the charging handle, and prepare to be amazed. Since the .50-Caliber is a semi-automatic rifle, once you complete these steps you simply keep firing until the magazine is empty. Each pull of the trigger equals one shot.



Shooting a 50 cal sniper rifle at The Range 702

The concussive blast is what really sets the 50-Cal apart from other lesser guns. You can feel the force of the massive bullet leaving the barrel, forcing a large volume of gasses out of the barrel and out of the two sides of the purpose-built muzzle brake affixed to the end of the barrel. Bystanders are cautioned not to stand anywhere near the barrel when a shot is being fired. Double hearing protection (in-ear foam protection plus over-the-ear muffs) is also advised.

The .50-Cal will recoil quite a bit, so it is important to pull it in tight to the shoulder – something your instructor will help you with. Once you’ve felt the kick of a “50,” other guns seem a little less exciting. That said, the weight of the gun helps minimize recoil to about a 12-gauge shotgun level. Don’t worry, if you follow the advice of your range master and exhibit proper form, it’ll be an enjoyable experience.

If you’re looking to experience the ultimate rush, head over to the premier indoor shooting range in Las Vegas – The Range 702, and experience the bolt action Barrett 99 .50-Caliber firsthand. The .50, as well as a host of other machine guns, sniper rifles, submachine guns, shotguns, handguns, and more, are available for you to shoot. And, try out several by opting for one of our legendary “experiences.” From a Black OPS program to a full-on Zombie Shootout, you’ll never forget your time spent at The Range 702.